...eloquent and enthralling ... charts the tremendous emotional and psychological effort it took for him to confront suffocating social messaging about gender and sexuality. Viewed in this light, Page’s book, which arrives at a moment of heightened anti-queer hostility, as Republican legislators across the United States push a record number of bills chiseling away at LGBTQ+ people’s rights, is many things at once: memoir, yes, but also cultural analysis and civil rights cri de coeur ... Pageboy doesn’t focus solely on pain. Some of the book’s most moving parts paint vivid pictures of Page’s touching relationship with his mother, Martha ... The book is an intense, emotional read, delivered in image-drenched prose ... Ultimately, Page performs a remarkable alchemy. He marshals memories and turns them into an appeal. 'Let me just exist with you,' he writes, 'happier than ever.' Reading those words nearly made me cry. Page’s plea is small. It also feels very big.
The nonlinear structure makes following a clear narrative difficult, but that’s less important than seeing, through his eyes, how Page slowly pieces together a clear sense of himself ... It’s in that tortured, contradictory internal monologue — familiar to other trans people as we contemplate what seems to be an extraordinary, unimaginable truth — that Pageboy is most powerful. Page doesn’t really delve into questions of masculinity, or what it means to be a man, but he brings to life the visceral sense of gender dysphoria, or at least one type of dysphoria: the sense that your body is betraying you.
Pageboy has not been written to placate those with the above views, or win over 'those with massive platforms who have attacked and ridiculed me.' The book puts up a fight, instead, against the sheer exhaustion of being in such a position: 'When your existence is constantly debated and denied, it sucks you dry' ... This memoir may be ragged at times, with some eccentric stabs at poetic prose that don’t always come off, but that’s largely to its benefit: it doesn’t feel like the smoothed-over result of cautious editing, 'as told to' anyone but Page himself. Such rawness, as a document of his life story, only makes it all the more singular.
I admire Elliot Page as much as the next LGBTQ+ person and was swooning just as hard over this incredible cover and the mystery around the hush-hush book with the super-private advanced copies. In the end, it didn’t live up to the hype. But it’s better that it doesn’t, because it humanizes the larger-than-life subject ... Page reads as a normal guy telling a meandering story that often dips into intimate, raw and powerful anecdotes ... On the whole, reading Pageboy is like listening to a friend. And by the time you reach the end, when Page thanks people for their support, it’s impossible to miss the truth in his words: 'I wouldn’t be typing this right now if it weren’t for you and your care' ... [a] humanizing and well-written memoir.